How can data and storytelling bring a greenway to life? Join the Collaboration of Regional Trail Initiatives for a June 3 webinar


How can data and storytelling bring a greenway to life? Join the Collaboration of Regional Trail Initiatives Trail Funders Working Group for a June 3 webinar to explore just that.

Five years after cutting a ribbon on the Razorback Regional Greenway, a bold and ambitious 37-mile greenway trail system connecting all of the large communities within the Northwest Arkansas region, the greenway network and supporting culture continues to grow.

Research, surveys and trend data have all enabled public officials to advocate for sustained funding and continued growth of a cycling infrastructure and a burgeoning cycling culture. As the Walton Family Foundation launches a new five-year strategy, how do they see communities sustain this effort and build upon its success, and what lessons might they learn as they work with partners to foster greater connection and expand access to all residents in the communities?

Please join Jeremy Pate, senior program officer with the Walton Family Foundation based in Bentonville, Ark., as he leads a conversation about the tools of measurement that Northwest Arkansas has used to tell a story, compel public interest, and educate and advocate for continued funding and development of greenway trails.


Data and Storytelling to Bring Regional Greenways to Life
Wednesday June 2, 3 to 4 p.m. ET

To RSVP for this funder-only event, please email Hannah Clemenson at

The Funders Network is a co-sponsor of this funder-only webinar presented by the Collaboration of Regional Trail Initiatives Trail Funders Working Group.

Photo credit above and at top:

About the Collaboration of Regional Trail Initiatives

The Collaboration of Regional Trail Initiatives (CRTI) is a network of regional trail organizations born out of a desire to better understand the challenges and issues being faced regional trails groups, to learn from and share with other practitioners, and explore the potential of facing shared obstacles together by leveraging our collective visions and impacts. CRTI brings together trail visionaries from across the country. Within the group, foundation representatives meet to discuss issues related specifically to their role in furthering this work. For more information, please reach out to Hannah Clemenson, program coordinator at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, at

I’m Not Just a ‘Model Minority’: Why AAPI voices are essential to the fight for justice — and how philanthropy can help

BY Jonathan Hui, The Kresge Foundation, TFN PLACES Alum

I am a first-generation immigrant from Hong Kong. Home for me is a complicated web of California, and Michigan, and Hong Kong. I am grateful for my adopted country, and every day I miss the sounds and smells of my birthplace.

And yet I was often taught that being as “American” as possible was the best — if not only — way to succeed in this country.

Speak fluent English. Learn the seventh-inning stretch. Remember that football involves touchdowns and not goals.

As I learned to assimilate, I also leaned into the stereotype of the “model minority”: the hard-working Asian overcoming all odds to achieve the American Dream. I held on to this mythic vision of myself as a way of propping myself up, something that offered validation and access white-led spaces in schools and the workplace.

What I didn’t realize, however, was that the model minority myth is just that. A myth.

It is a myth because it didn’t, and shouldn’t, define me or my community.

It is a myth because it was a stereotype created not to prop up Asian Americans, but to pit people of color against each other. The “model minority” term, coined by a white sociologist, was subsequently used by politicians to discredit the need to address racial injustices toward other peoples of color. It compares the success of Asian Americans to that of our other BIPOC brothers and sisters. It does not celebrate our achievements, but serves to imply the inferiority of others.

As we recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month this May, I invite you to celebrate and elevate the unique stories of your AAPI neighbors around the country. No two AAPI stories in the United States are the same. Each brings a complex web of family histories and life experiences that have shaped our journey in this country. Our stories embody remarkable achievement and incredible pain of real people, far beyond the one-dimensional myth of the “model minority.”

I recall the countless times I’ve been asked: “How did your English get so good?” The unspoken but clear implication being that there was something wrong with the English spoken by my fellow immigrants. And in our nation’s political discourse, we still hear stories of AAPI entrepreneurs and leaders highlighted as examples only to be asked: “If you made it, why can’t they make it?”

But this myth hasn’t translated into reality for AAPI people, including our representation in governance and business. AAPIs make up 6% of the nation’s population, but less than 1% of its elected officials at any level. In business, AAPIs make up 12% of the nation’s workforce, but only 1.5% of Fortune 500 corporate officers. Those rates are similarly appalling for our Black and brown peers in business, despite their hard-earned gains in the political sphere.

What I didn’t realize, therefore, was that my claiming the role of model minority came at the expense of my fellow AAPIs, and my Black and brown brothers and sisters. It taught me lies I internalized over time: How I prided myself at the expense of my fellow immigrants for my language fluency, or how I found myself questioning others’ success — or seeming lack of  success — while being blinded by my own privilege and access to certain opportunities.

What does privilege look like for me, a member of the AAPI diaspora? My own access to education, my family’s access to wealth-building opportunities, my being welcomed into white-dominant spaces as the “model minority” have all contributed to privilege I have experienced in this country.

Indeed, I am responsible for buying into that myth, and yet am determined that I can no longer allow a myth that has perpetuated white-centeredness to reign supreme over how I view my brothers and sisters of color.

Even within the AAPI community, the model minority myth generalizes the AAPI experience. It shows our community as a monolith rather than an interconnected web of cultures, languages and peoples from hundreds of different Asian and Pacific cultures. It ignores what makes each of us human.

The response in many corners of our country to the recent murders of seven Asian women and their colleagues in Atlanta demonstrated this dehumanization. Rather than focusing on the heinous acts, commentary focused on the women’s jobs, comparing their careers to the story of the model minority. Rather than telling the stories of the women that lost their lives, we created space to somehow justify the murderer’s fetishization of Asian women. People, somehow, started asking questions of the women: “If these other Asians made it, why couldn’t they make it?”

So as we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month during the month of May, I invite you to hear the stories of your AAPI neighbors and to honor what makes each of them their own. Each story brings a different experience of immigration, of navigating the tension of cultural identity, of learning new and old languages, of food and family, of each of our intersecting identities.

And if you asked me to share my story, I would tell you about how I have to explain “where I’m from” to strangers. I would tell you about how I was determined to stay fluent in Cantonese so I can speak to my grandparents. About teaching English and civics to American high school students. About how I have come to understand my place as an Asian man living in a majority Black city like Detroit.

About how, after all these years, I am still juggling my American patriotism and Chinese cultural identity.

Mine is the story of just one person — a first-generation, Chinese, heterosexual, Christian man working in philanthropy. There are countless other AAPI experiences that deserve to be lifted up and amplified.

Who else will you invite to share their story?

Through these stories, I hope that we will find ways to celebrate what makes each of us unique. That our stories will tell of our community’s power, and hope, and complexity. That each of these stories will catalyze a shift in our culture and our policies. I hope that we will start by dismantling the dominance of white-centeredness that continues to pervade our nation — one that dehumanizes peoples of color and pits BlPOC communities against each other. I hope that I will continue to learn how I can join in a journey of shared liberation with my Black, brown and Indigenous brothers and sisters, and with the advocacy alongside our white allies, recognizing that none of us will truly experience freedom and liberation in this country unless we all do.

What Can Funders Do?

There is much we can do as funders to change the narrative of AAPI communities in our country.

1. Learn More

Read the “State of Philanthropy Among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” which provides a thorough analysis of AAPIs in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, and proposes a set of recommendations for policymakers and funders. (You can also read about another recent AAPIP study, “Seeking to Soar: Foundation Funding for Asian American & Pacific Islander Communities”, on the TFN Blog.) I would also encourage you to read this call for solidarity and collective action from Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, released in the wake of the Atlanta attacks.

2. Reject the Model Minority Myth

Rejecting the model minority myth opens the door for more equitable and effective policymaking and funding. Rather than seeing the AAPI experience as a prepackaged set of identities and stories, policymakers should ask the right questions to fully understand the experience of each person, and each sub-culture and subgroup.

We can start by using disaggregating data, which allows us to target interventions that support different communities within the AAPI umbrella. The percentage of Indian and Malaysian Americans with a bachelor’s degree in California (70% and 63%, respectively) is dramatically higher than those for Laotian (10%) and Samoan (12%) Americans. Poverty rates are similarly disproportionate: 42% of Hmong youth and 33% of Cambodian youth live in poverty in California, compared to between 6 and 7% of Taiwanese or Japanese youth.

We increase our understanding of the challenges faced by each sub-group as we continue to disaggregate. Think, for example, about our LGBTQIA AAPI neighbors, the elderly, or those with physical disabilities. It is only by recognizing the unique challenges faced by each subgroup that we can truly address the needs that span across the communities that make up the AAPI umbrella in the United States.

 3. Recognize the Context of Place

We know that the challenges faced by AAPI communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York are different than those in Southeast Michigan or New Orleans. Each faces a different context of poverty and economic opportunity, housing regulations, school segregation, state and local laws that enhance or restrict access to voting, and much more. And in this era of increased violence and hate crimes toward AAPI communities, we must also recognize how the context of place shapes the safety and security experienced by our AAPI neighbors.

I hope you’ll find time to hear the stories of your AAPI neighbors, not just during AAPI Heritage Month, but year-round.

I hope you’ll honor those stories and hear within them how our shared tears of joy and sorrow have built our collective power.

I hope you’ll work alongside your AAPI colleagues to better examine how design of policies and funding programs can best address the priorities of the many communities within the AAPI family.

And I hope you’ll join us in a fight for the shared liberation of all peoples of color — of all people — as we march toward justice and opportunity in this country.

About the Author

Jonathan Hui is a program officer at The Kresge Foundation, supporting the Detroit Program’s work in early childhood and neighborhood development. He joined the foundation in 2017. (Read his full bio here.) Jonathan was also a member of TFN’s 2019 PLACES Fellowship cohort, embarking on a year-long leadership development program for professionals in philanthropy to better understand issues of race, equity and inclusiveness, and recently joined the PLACES Advisory Board.



Origami – order out of chaos” by docoverachiever is licensed under CC BY

Read AAPIP's Study: Seeking to Soar: Foundation Funding for Asian American & Pacific Islander Communities


Earlier this spring, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy released a report examining the level of foundation investments in AAPI communities  — and whether it has kept pace with changing demographics and needs over the past three decades.

The report was released in the wake of the deadly and racially motivated attacks on Asian-owned businesses in Atlanta, part of a disturbing uptick in anti-Asian violence during the pandemic that has been fueled by rhetoric wrongly blaming Asians for the spread of COVID and tapping into long-held xenophobia and racism against AAPI communities.

As part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and in keeping with The Funders Network's commitment to encourage investment and philanthropic leadership that supports racial equity, we are sharing this study with our TFN audience.  (We also invite you to read this blog post from TFN PLACES Alum Jonathan Hui of The Kresge Foundation, sharing his experiences as an immigrant from Hong Kong and reflecting on the role philanthropy can play in supporting the AAPI community.)

According to AAPIP's report, Seeking to Soar: Foundation Funding for Asian American & Pacific Islander Communities,  "foundation funding designated for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities only accounts for 0.20 percent of all U.S. grantmaking."

Or, as the report further notes: "[f]or every $100 awarded by foundations for work in the United States, only 20 cents is designated for AAPI communities."

While the population of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. has seen substantial growth, foundation funding for AAPI communities flatlined — and those funding dollars are "heavily concentrated among a handful of foundations"  that account for nearly 40 percent of all philanthropic support for AAPI communities, according to the AAPIP report.

While the report focuses on the period between 2009 and 2018, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on the AAPI community have thrown the data into sharp relief.

As AAPIP's President and CEO Patricia Eng and Interim Vice President of Programs Lyle Matthew Kan note in the report's introduction:

"Similar to the experiences of Black, Latinx, and Native American communities, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been and continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. COVID-19 infection rates for Pacific Islanders were consistently among the highest in the country, undercounted and hidden without the magnifying glass of disaggregated data.  As the country shut down, Asian American unemployment rates increased by more than 450 percent from February to June 2020, the highest rate of increase of any racial group. Moreover, nearly one in four Asian Americans were employed as frontline workers — risking their own health and safety to stem the tide of the infection and get the country back on track."

They further note that "[i]n the face of great disparities and challenges, the fact that the percentage of philanthropic dollars designated for AAPIs has not moved in at least three decades, is cause to raise many eyebrows."

You can read more key takeaways, download the full report, and access infographics from the report via the AAPIP website.

More resources and information from AAPIP


"Origami - order out of chaos" by docoverachiever is licensed under CC BY

Save the Date: Summer Strategy Series with TFN's Mobility and Access Collaborative


Mobility advocates, activists and funders have found themselves at the crossroads of these intersecting issues over the past year: A deepening climate crisis. Persistent racial and ethnic inequities. The economic and social fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

They have moved with urgency and purpose in communities across the country. What have we learned? Where are the opportunities for impact? And what comes next in the fight to advance sustainable and equitable mobility?

Join the Mobility and Access Collaborative, an initiative of The Funders Network, for a three-part Summer Strategy Series this June.

These interactive sessions are designed around facilitated funder-to-funder conversations — giving us a chance to connect, share and strategize together.

We hope you'll save the date for these sessions below.


June 8 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Get inspired as we share the "Top 10" wins and great projects focused on mobility and access, and how they can serve as helpful lessons and replicable models.

Statewide Struggles

June 15 | 1-2:30 p.m. ET

Dive into the challenges and opportunities at the state level, including efforts to fight highway expansions, support funding measures, and bend the curve towards climate and equity.

Crystal Ball

June 22 | 1-2:30 p.m.

What's next on the mobility and access front? We'll hear from leading thinkers in the sector on how to build and keep momentum on the road ahead.

Stay tuned for updates on speakers and registration info!

About the Mobility and Access Collaborative

The Mobility and Access Collaborative, an initiative of The Funders Network, is an action-oriented effort that recognizes the urgency for ambitious — and quickly implemented — solutions to limit the devastating impacts of climate change. Join the collaborative's listserv by emailing



"Mayor Rick Kriseman Helps Students Cross Safely" by CityofStPete is licensed under CC BY-ND

American Rescue Plan: Join TFN's Inclusive Economies webinar to learn how funders can help communities leverage federal dollars

By TFN Staff

Communities across the U.S. are poised for an unprecedented infusion of direct and programmatic funds through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a historically ambitious $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill intended to help the country rebound from the coronavirus pandemic and its ongoing economic impacts.

This cash infusion is desperately needed in communities where the pandemic has wrought economic havoc and worsened already stark inequities. But many cities — notably small and mid-sized municipalities — often lack the capacity to access federal dollars, navigate funding requirements, and build projects that create meaningful and equitable impacts.

How can funders help communities access and leverage these critical federal dollars to ensure the best outcomes for people and places?

Join TFN’s Inclusive Economies  at 3 p.m. May 19 for a funder-only webinar, American Rescue Plan: How Funders Can Help Leverage Federal Dollars for Local Impact.

This webinar will highlight the role that funders can play as a support structure for the implementation of ARP funds in local communities. This includes the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund’s $350 billion for states, municipalities, counties, tribes, and territories, according to the National League of Cities, which has developed a scalable structure to empower cities large and small to create local impact through the ARP.

Please register here  for this funder-only webinar by May 17 in order to receive login information.

Join us for a discussion with:

Jane Alexander

 President & CEO, Community Foundation for Mississippi

Dr. Robert Blaine

Director, NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families

Paula Sammons

Senior Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Scot Spencer

Associate Director, Local Policy, The Annie E. Casey Foundation (moderator)



About TFN’s Inclusive Economies

TFN’s Inclusive Economies working group brings place-based funders and related partners from across the sector together to build working relationships, advancing understanding of practices and policies that lead to inclusive prosperity and taking joint action that drives the field forward. We apply a three-part focus — race, place and prosperity — to economic growth and development. A particular goal is connecting people and neighborhoods of color to employment and wealth-building opportunities through investment, systems change, and policy reform.For more information, please contact Hazel Paguaga at

"Des Moines Teachers Begin to Get Vaccine" by Phil Roeder is licensed under CC BY

"Des Moines Teachers Begin to Get Vaccine" by Phil Roeder is licensed under CC BY

Cleveland Fed's Policy Summit 2021 will focus on economic resilience & equity


Policy Summit 2021: Pathways to Economic Resilience in Our Communities, organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, will focus on economic resilience and equity and how they play out in communities of all sizes and compositions. The event, which takes place June 23-25,  will highlight the policies and practices that support or hinder people in our most vulnerable communities from being able to prepare for, adapt to, and respond to shocks and stresses.

The effects of COVID-19 and racial injustice will likely be front and center, across a range of topic areas, including but not limited to, small business, workforce, and housing. Check out the agenda for #PolicySummit2021 here.

Pat Smith, president and CEO of The Funders Network, will moderate two sessions at #PolicySummit2021:

Opening Keynote
Economic Resilience: What It Is, What It Is Not, and Why We Must Prioritize It Immediately

Description: “As we move through a pandemic that has wrought havoc on our communities, we find there are many facets to rebuilding: reinvigorating local and regional economies, strengthening neighborhoods by adding quality and affordable housing, supporting small businesses, and providing career pathways for our current and future workforce. This session defines economic resilience, highlights its importance in post-COVID-19 times, and provides ways communities can work toward achieving this goal.”

Otis Rolley, Senior Vice President, The Rockefeller Foundation

Plenary 1
Common Ground in Urban and Rural America: What Has Undermined—and What Can Build—Economic Resilience

Description: “Economic resilience is needed, in both urban and rural communities, now more than ever. In this session, speakers share stories and insights about the geographic and racial exclusion that has undermined the economic health of these two populations essential to the success of our nation. The discussion will also identify strategies and interventions both populations can use to build economic resilience.”

Caitlin Cain, Vice President and Director, Rural LISC
Andre M. Perry, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
Otis Rolley, Senior Vice President, The Rockefeller Foundation

We hope you join us for three days of actionable, resource-rich presentations and conversations about building the economic resilience of our communities. Register for this free and virtual event here.

Photo by 5540867 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Investing at the Frontlines of Climate Change: New funder toolkit focuses on climate, health and equity


The Funders Network (TFN) is thrilled to share a new funder toolkit — focused on climate, health and equity — that aims to help accelerate investments, advance strategy and expand partnerships.

As the impacts of climate change accelerate in communities across the country, funders in every sector face immense needs for investment — especially in communities that are disproportionately impacted. The challenges are profound. But so is a historic opportunity to embed a culture of health, eliminate longstanding inequities, improve the environment, and reshape our communities around the needs of people.

Exciting efforts are emerging across the country. But meeting this moment will require philanthropy to work ambitiously, strategically, at scale and across sectors.

To support this, eight philanthropy-serving organizations worked together to create  Investing at the Frontlines: A Funder Toolkit on Climate, Health, and Equity. The aim is to help philanthropy accelerate investments, advance strategy and expand cross-cutting partnerships, especially by supporting highly impacted communities and populations in their own solutions-focused work.

Ready to Get Started?

Whether getting started in this space or ramping up existing efforts, funders can use the toolkit to:

Partner Organizations

TFN is proud to be among the eight philanthropy-serving organizations that worked together to produce  Investing at the Frontlines of Climate Change: A Funder Toolkit on Climate, Health, and Equity:

Biodiversity Funders Group

Climate and Energy Funders Group (CEFG)

Grantmakers in Health (GIH)

Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA)

Health & Environmental Funders Network (HEFN

Philanthropy California

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF)

What will we learn and share at Intermountain West Funders Network's 2021 Virtual Convening?


Our Intermountain West Funders Network 2021 Virtual Convening kicks off in just under two weeks!

What will be learning during our time together?

Our IMWFN 2021 Virtual Convening Planning Committee has helped craft peer-driven learning agenda that will guide our time together May 12 and 13.

Join as we explore how Intermountain West funders are engaging on critical issues including racial equity, climate and water management, inclusive economies, and Indigenous communities.

We are looking forward to learning together about promising funder practices and new ways of thinking about the unprecedented challenges facing communities in the Intermountain West.

Agenda Highlights

View and download the full #IMWFN2021 Agenda here.

We'll open our virtual gathering at noon May 12 with a chance to hear from Tim Stevens of The Kendeda Fund, chair of IMWFN, as well as Pat Smith, president and CEO of The Funders Network. We'll also feature a short video by filmmaker Pita Juarez of Chispa, an arm of the League of Conservation Voters, made especially for our virtual gathering.

In addition to peer-to-peer funder exchanges and facilitated conversations, we are thrilled to welcome a diverse and thought-provoking lineup of sessions, including:

Getting Centered: Racial Equity at the Heart of the Matter, a conversation with Melanie Mitros of Vitalyst Health Foundation and Dion Cartwright, TFN's director of equitable initiatives & leadership development and head of our amazing PLACES Fellowship. (Melanie is a PLACES Alum as well!)

Gaining Perspective: Views on the Mountain West from 30,000 Feet with Ben Alexander of Resources Legacy FundRaymond Foxworth of First Nations Development InstituteJill Ozarski of the Walton Family Foundation, and moderated by Paula Randolph of the Babbitt Center for Land & Water Policy at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Just Transition to a Circular Economy with Alicia Marseille of Arizona State University's Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions ServiceWhitney Johnson of the Gates Family Foundation and Colorado Employee Ownership Commission, and moderated by Jessica Gonzalez LISC Phoenix.


Day 1: Wednesday, May 12 | Noon MT – 3:30 p.m. MT

Day 2: Thursday, May 13 |Noon MT – 2:30 p.m. MT

Who Should Attend

Registration is open to donors, staff, directors, trustees of public and private foundations, corporate grantmakers and government funders throughout the Intermountain West and elsewhere. We welcome funders, wherever they are in the continuum of learning, to engage with us in this work as we seek to create a shared learning space for strategic conversations about where philanthropic resources can have the greatest impact.

Register now!


The Funders Network’s Intermountain West Funders Network allows funders to grow relationships, deepen knowledge, explore unique endeavors and share promising practices. While funders in the network embed a variety of lenses into their work, their key focus remains on ensuring that communities in the Intermountain West are equitable, sustainable and prosperous.

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Chauvin Verdict: Responses from the sector


"We cannot unsee what we have seen. Now that the bar of accountability has been set, we can—and we must—choose to move forward by continuing to act in justice and to address inequities in our systems." - Minneapolis Foundation's statement in response to the Derick Chauvin verdict.

On Tuesday, a Minneapolis jury found former officer Derick Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd, a verdict that came nearly a year after Floyd's death shocked the world and sparked a national reckoning on race and justice.

Here is a round-up of responses from leaders in philanthropy and others. If you would like to share a statement from your organization, please contact TFN's Director of Communications Tere Figueras Negrete at

TFN Statement

Our Work Continues: Read a statement from TFN President and CEO Pat Smith in response to Tuesday's verdict.

Philanthropy Responds 

Alliance for Justice


California Community Foundation

The California Endowment

The California Wellness Foundation

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Energy Foundation

First 5 LA

Ford Foundation

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees

The Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson

Liberty Hill Foundation

McKnight Foundation President Tonya Allen

Minneapolis Foundation

Missouri Foundation for Health

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

NorCal Grantmakers

Open Society Foundations

Partnership for Southern Equity

RWJF President and CEO Richard Besser

San Francisco Foundation CEO Fred Blackwell

Sierra Health Foundation 

Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Nicole Taylor

Surdna Foundation President Don Chen


"George Floyd" by is licensed under CC BY-SA

Our Work Continues: Statement from TFN's Pat Smith on the Chauvin verdict


Today, I’m holding two things in my heart.

The first is tremendous relief that a jury believed what our eyes knew from the start: That George Floyd was the victim of a heinous murder at the hands of a police officer.

The second is knowledge that this is a too-rare rebuke of police misconduct in a country where nearly 1,000 people die at the hands of law enforcement each year, with case after case of officers eluding justice after killing a Black person.

I hope that the verdict brings the Floyd family some measure of peace. And I will forever be filled with deep awe and gratitude for the countless people who took to the streets over the past year, invoking his name as a call to action and igniting a national reckoning on race.

But even though the trial is over, nothing is really over.

There is still so much more work to be done. We need to radically re-imagine our approach to law enforcement and to truly keep our communities safe. We have to dismantle racist systems and policies that create barriers to opportunities and cut lives short. We have to not only ensure that Black and brown bodies are physically safe, but that their voices — as well as those of all communities of color — are heard and their ballots counted.

Since testimony in the trial began on March 29, at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latinx people representing more than half of those killed, according to the New York Times. That includes Daunte Wright, a young Black man killed in Brooklyn Center, just a few miles from where Floyd’s murderer was standing trial in Minneapolis. It includes Adam Toledo, an unarmed 13-year-old boy gunned down in Chicago. That number does not include 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, less than an hour after Derick Chauvin was found guilty.

So much grief. So much work to do.

For those who would like to explore policy recommendations that center equity and compassion, I recommend you start with PolicyLink’s “policing toolkit,” Building Momentum from the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing.

There has already been great work being done at the grassroots level, in Minneapolis and beyond. We encourage you and your grantmaking organizations to increase support of frontline organizations led by BIPOC members of our communities through general operating grants, and to truly partner with these groups as equals at the decision-making tables in the communities you serve.

This movement that spurred people to take to the streets and the ballot box this past year has, unsurprisingly, sparked pushback.

Here in Florida, home to TFN’s headquarters, a newly enacted law mandates harsh criminal penalties against protestors exercising their First Amendment rights. The law, signed into law by our governor on Monday, was a direct response to protests demanding police accountability and transparency, and seeks to silence and criminalize those who want to see justice for Black lives.

In Georgia, where voters elected their first Black U.S. senator in November, a controversial new voting law has been enacted to make it harder for people of color to vote. Discriminatory changes to voting laws in Arizona, Michigan, and Texas are also being considered.

Last week, more than 60 foundation leaders — including many members of The Funders Network — joined with corporate executives, scholars and others to protest these efforts to restrict voting rights.

Gerrymandering, which is wielded as a tool of voter suppression, is another obstacle to ensuring communities are fairly represented and adequately funded. To learn more about how funders can engage in the 2021-2022 redistricting cycle, and how it presents a “critical opportunity for communities to build power, ensure equitable political representation, and address systemic inequities,” please visit these resources from the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation.

I also want to lift up the work of Rukia Lumumba, one of our recent TFN annual conference plenary speakers, and her colleagues whose work supports the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project.

There are so many activists, advocates and allies that have given me strength and inspiration in the 11 months since that video of George Floyd’s death shook the world.

We can’t let this moment slide into history, but continue to meet it head on with passion and purpose.

That means keeping our eyes always open to injustice, and our hearts always open to change.

About the Author

Pat Smith is the President and CEO of The Funders Network (TFN). TFN’s mission is to leverage philanthropy’s unique potential to help create communities and regions that are sustainable, prosperous, healthy and just for all people. TFN is committed to helping funders understand and address racism, economic inequality, and the imbalance of power — while engendering community-driven solutions and amplifying the expertise and experiences of those communities who are least heard.  (To learn more about TFN’s foundational and cross-cutting commitment to racial equity, as well as resources for funders, visit our Putting Equity First page.)

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